March 06, 2005

Water Lily

Water Lily

My brother took this photo. But I get the credit because I was holding the canoe steady. This water lily lives in the marsh where I have camped for weeks every summer since I was seven. This marsh is the place where I feel most at home, the place I dream about during February when the winter seems endless. At the edge of this marsh, around a campfire on summer nights, my extended family gathers to tell stories, tell jokes, tease each other. It's where I learned the art of bantering.

Sometimes in the early morning when mist still clings to the cattails, I'll sneak out early with a canoe, a rock in the bow to balance me, and paddle out into the marsh all by myself. It's where I go to be myself, to think and to cry.

When I was little, my mother taught me not to pick water lilies. She said that they were rare and beautiful, and it's better to leave them where they are, letting them live, nestled in amongst the curling green pads, the stirred up muck, touched by snakes and frogs and green bottle flies. When I canoe through the marsh, I glide carefully around the water lilies. I admire the way a water lily grows up in those layers of decayed plant material, roots sometimes floating to the surface.

So somehow this image of the water lily seems the appropriate gift for David, who stayed up with me the other night to write poetry, even though he was ridiculously tired, because it was the middle of the night and I needed to talk. I can't pick the water lily and hand it to him, because he lives too far away and the marsh is frozen. And I don't pick water lilies. And I don't give out awards on my blog. And I'm not even usually nice to David because I think he's more comfortable when I insult him. But sometimes, every once in a while, I have this need to be nice. And say thank you.


Laura said...

You both deserve a prize. It was really heartening to wake up in the morning and find that my space had been the scene of a poetry slam. As a reformed poet myself, I really appreciated it. That is a beautiful lily picture--makes me long for summer.

timna said...

I like presents that we all get to enjoy!

dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

Damn, jo(e), you've got a way of creating vivid images and feelings out of words. I love your snarky streak, too.

I wish you didn't cry so much. I've noticed you mentioning it a lot. Maybe that's just part of your enviro-empathic side, and the source of your beautiful language.

Scrivener said...

I'm probably more comfortable when you're mean to me because then you go and get all nice like this and make me cry. Thank you very much, such a sweet post.

Phantom Scribbler said...

What a lovely post. And that picture makes a better prize than even chocolate cupcakes.

LisaV said...

What a beautiful image, and I am not talking about the photo. It's lovely too, but you have such a talent for making a simple sentence beautiful prose.